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Thick vs. Thin, Heavy vs Light

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This topic was touched on in another post which caused me to wonder about other peoples' opinions. What are your thoughts on the plusses and minuses of thin pots vs thick walled, heavy pots or pieces. Aesthetics? Sales? Other thoughts?

 

Now that I have advanced enough to be able to throw thin, I find myself concentrating less on it. Some items just feel right at a certain weight, like mugs for instance. I have learned how to finish cylinder forms without trimming, and these then tend to be a bit heavier at the base, and I find I really don't mind that. I don't sell much, so I have no idea how the weight affects sales.

 

Doris

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This topic was touched on in another post which caused me to wonder about other peoples' opinions. What are your thoughts on the plusses and minuses of thin pots vs thick walled, heavy pots or pieces. Aesthetics? Sales? Other thoughts?

 

Now that I have advanced enough to be able to throw thin, I find myself concentrating less on it. Some items just feel right at a certain weight, like mugs for instance. I have learned how to finish cylinder forms without trimming, and these then tend to be a bit heavier at the base, and I find I really don't mind that. I don't sell much, so I have no idea how the weight affects sales.

 

Doris

 

 

When I was a beginner on the wheel my quest was for thinner pots knowing that mine were sinkers, heavy and awkward. Over time developing my own throwing techniques, combining wet and dry pulls, making the pull from the base not from the mid section, getting the most out of every pull they got thinner. Now, I don't worry about thin, but worry about the appropriateness of thick vs thin. A coffee mug thrown too thin even with a thick rim, loses heat too quickly. A little more thickness insulates better, and feels better in the hand. At the same time an elegant dessert bowl may need a thinner body, and a rim that still is protective of chipping or damage from spoons. All functional ware should be made with weight biased in the direction of their function. One final factor is the clay itself. I imagine, as I have not worked with porcelain, that earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain all require a certain adjustment of thickness for the clay body. Of course these are personal opinions and obviously open to discussion.

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There is an appropriate weight for every pot. You can tell if it's right when you pick it up. Throwing thin is great, but too thin can be just as problematic as too thick. And don't forget evenness and balance. A pot that is uneven in thickness from top to bottom will feel much heavier than it really is.

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This topic was touched on in another post which caused me to wonder about other peoples' opinions. What are your thoughts on the plusses and minuses of thin pots vs thick walled, heavy pots or pieces. Aesthetics? Sales? Other thoughts?

 

Now that I have advanced enough to be able to throw thin, I find myself concentrating less on it. Some items just feel right at a certain weight, like mugs for instance. I have learned how to finish cylinder forms without trimming, and these then tend to be a bit heavier at the base, and I find I really don't mind that. I don't sell much, so I have no idea how the weight affects sales.

 

Doris

 

 

 

it more about balance than thick or thin.

 

thick wall thick bottom, delicate wall thin bottom. you don't even want to get started talking about a proper tea bowl.

 

wall thickness also depends on design, and function.

 

there is also rule of conservation.... can i get away with less clay.... and make more ......

 

but there is a line that must be drawn.... is it heavy because its a beginner pot or is it purposefully thick....

 

thin walls also read delicate for me.

 

plates i like em thick. period. but thats my style!

 

 

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I am always picking up others pots. I put my hand inside and outside feel the wall thickness especially at the base. I am always amazed at how some professional pottery is quite clunky or the bowls have that hump where it goes over the foot. I wish I could pick up all the pots I spend hours looking at on the internet. For me, it is a study and the reward is my own aesthetic.

 

-Brian

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Some thought should be given to the way the item will be used and where. More often mugs, glasses, plates will be carried to a work area or computer desk. I am thinking we need to adapt by making bases of mugs and glasses heavier so they are harder to knock over and shapes of dishes square with a raised rim so they take less room and don't spill out.

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pots need to be as heavy or light as they look. Meaning if the look light they should be-same with heavy.

The next criteria is what function they are used for-meaning heavy table wares should be thick enough to hold up,

Thirdly they all need to be made well-no humps in middle of bowl bottoms and should have nice defined feet. wall thickness should be even and no wimpy handles.

Maerk

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For small pots that are meant to be picked up and held and tipped, they need to be "comfortable" most of all. But for me "light" is part of that. I try to make those pots light.

 

I have purchased a pot that was "too light." It had a very thin delicate lip, and although the potter claimed it was dishwasher safe, it emerged from the dishwasher with tiny chips on the lip. Too bad it was really gorgeous. Now it sits on a shelf.

 

There is a potter who's work I admired in photos for years. I was excited when I got the opportunity to see the work in person, and purchase something. I was disappointed that the mugs and bowls were bottom-heavy. Not a little, a lot! I passed on purchasing. I couldn't see myself wanting to use the uncomfortable mugs.

 

Mea

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I wish I could through thick! My problem is I can only center a small amount of clay yet, but I like big and tall stuff.

To compensate it, I through thin. I pull from the base, I have almost no trimming, as I try to use all the clay I managed to center.

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I wish I could through thick! My problem is I can only center a small amount of clay yet, but I like big and tall stuff.

To compensate it, I through thin. I pull from the base, I have almost no trimming, as I try to use all the clay I managed to center.

 

 

Don't get too hung up on that. I think it is very important for a beginning potter to keep concentrating on speed, exactness, and thinness for a very long time, but there comes a time when that is second nature and you actually have to avoid concentrating on those things. I've ruined many a pot that was spontaneous, fresh, and gestural because I couldn't resist pulling it a little thinner.

 

Jim

RiaQuinn, Claypple and annekat like this

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Don't get too hung up on that. I think it is very important for a beginning potter to keep concentrating on speed, exactness, and thinness for a very long time, but there comes a time when that is second nature and you actually have to avoid concentrating on those things. I've ruined many a pot that was spontaneous, fresh, and gestural because I couldn't resist pulling it a little thinner.

 

Jim

 

 

Appreciated!

OffCenter likes this

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Good thoughts everyone, thanks. I would like to comment on Mark's statement that pots should look as thin or thick as they are. I mostly agree with you, but must admit to some secret delight at times when picking up a pot causes surprise...as in, "Wow, I didn't expect this to be so light!"...or heavy, as the case may be.

Someone else mentioned about always picking pots up...same here. I have to pick it up, feel its surface, look at the bottom. It's all just part of the pots character.

Doris.

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I have the same problem as offcenter..can't center large amounts of clay...causes pain in my elbow. There are so many ways to get around that and make large pieces anyway.

 

 

 

 

I think you've confused me with someone else. My joints do hurt but I can still center what I consider large amounts of clay (20-25 lbs of hard clay).

 

Jim

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I have the same problem as offcenter..can't center large amounts of clay...causes pain in my elbow. There are so many ways to get around that and make large pieces anyway.

 

 

 

 

I think you've confused me with someone else. My joints do hurt but I can still center what I consider large amounts of clay (20-25 lbs of hard clay).

 

Jim

 

 

It is me who cannot center the large amount.

Even though my joints do not hurt.

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When you're talking about thick and thin in pottery, there are many different things to keep in mind at the same time. Here are a few. First, there's the aspect of developing skill. If you want to be versatile enough to throw thinly when you need to, then take whatever steps are necessary to learn to throw more thinly or you'll only be able to throw more thickly. Second, almost every pot needs to be thinner at certain places and thicker at others. For instance, if you're making a cereal bowl or a serving bowl, something that will see heavy use, the rim will need to be thicker in order to stand the abuse it's going to get. Some bowls you make, however, will have carved rims and will only be for display, so it will make it more difficult for you to carve the rim if it's thicker on that bowl. Third, some parts of your pieces should be thicker (and heavier) in order for them to be well balanced. I make pedestal bowls that have narrow bases and that flare out quite widely, so I keep more clay in the pedestal itself so it doesn't topple over so easily. Fourth, throwing is only part of the process of making a pot, and a pot's final weight and balance aren't only related to throwing. You also trim or carve and add handles or lids. Any of these additions or subtractions will make a pot heavier in some ways, lighter in others, and both can throw the pot off balance. I love to trim pots and see trimming as just another form of carving. Some people admonish potters to throw as thinly as possible in order to trim as little as possible and treat extensive trimming as if it's something you only do if you haven't thrown well to begin with. I don't see why anyone should accept this. Trim as much as you need to in order to get the pot you want.

 

I'm a beginning potter and when I started taking pottery classes at the Hawaii Potters Guild I immediately ran into this idea that every pot should be thrown as thinly as possible. Like most beginners, I aimed toward that goal with absolute conviction, throwing every part of every pot as thinly as possible. Then one day I ran into a man who made ikebana displays at the Honolulu Museum of Art and taught ikebana classes at their Linekona school. I asked him to look at a few of my pots and tell me if they would be good to use in ikebana. He told me they wouldn't be good. Why? "They're too light," he said. He told me that another potter always came to the ikebana society he was a member of but that no one ever bought pots from him because they were thrown too thinly and weren't heavy enough. He explained that when doing ikebana, the branches or flowers were often arranged assymetrically and stretched far away from the pot. You needed a pot with some weight in the base to keep the whole thing from tipping over. So with his advice, I began making the bases of some of my vases a little thicker so they would be more appropriate for ikebana.

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